Research-based insights are becoming the lifeblood of business, as the ability to conduct research and obtain the needed intelligence from key stakeholder audiences becomes more and more accessible. What sometimes happens though, is that an organization thinks every challenge they face requires another round of research to help overcome it. That is not always the case. Often, when developing a fact-based brand strategy for a client, we find that the client already has a rich body of research work on hand, often done for other purposes such as customer satisfaction or new product development, which can be effectively ‘re-purposed’ to meet their branding challenges.
In those situations, there are key questions and considerations to think about to determine if there is value in re-purposing existing research:
1. How aged is the research?
Typically, leveraging a client’s existing body of primary research works if it is either A) done within the past year or, B) part of an ongoing research program where insights are consistently refreshed and updated.
2. What stakeholders were included in the prior research?
If the research in hand isn’t touching the right audiences for understanding how the company’s brand has had an impact or what branding elements will resonate going forward, it will be of little utility to the brand strategy being developed. An example of this is: If the stakeholder audience is too limited, or not representative of the audience needed to understand from a brand perspective.
3. What research measures have been captured?
Specific types of research programs, such as customer satisfaction or loyalty research, tend to be consistent in the types of measures they capture; i.e. rating a company or provider on a host of touch points including service quality dimensions and product performance characteristics, in order to better understand which ones influence customer behaviors. These same dimensions can also be analyzed in a different way, to help identify the drivers of brand perceptions and attitudes, and where a brand stands relative to certain stakeholder segments and relative to the competitive set. Outputs such as perceptual maps to see where desirable and attainable brand image exists, or key driver analyses to determine what factors most impact brand perceptions, are but two examples of how this type of customer satisfaction and loyalty research can be re-purposed.
4. How has the research been received, or used internally?
If the research being done is not contributing to the business strategy in a material way, it calls into question the rationale for doing it and possibly the quality of the insights, so then it may make sense to suggest a new, custom research initiative for the branding process. On the other hand, if the research is seen as important tool for managing customer expectations, developing products, or responding to the competition, than it probably has the power and quality needed to support teasing out some additional insights for the brand strategy.
5. Make sure to still include an internal research component expressly dedicated to the brand challenge.
This is key not only to understand internal perceptions of the brand, but to also better frame the existing research data from a brand perspective. With the internal perspective on the branding challenges they face, it is easier to look at the results of existing research done for other purposes through the branding lens, and repurpose it appropriately.
Think through these questions and considerations to help maximize the existing research that can be leveraged for the branding challenges ahead.